- “I’m looking at the best models out there for using business to solve social problems.”
- “This is so hard – I’ve been looking for the right organization to work with for almost a year. I don’t want to waste my time working on something that won’t really make a difference.”
- “One day, I hope to get involved in ending poverty, so I’m studying as much as I can today.”
These are a few of the things I’ve been told by people in the last month who have e-mailed and called because they are passionate about social entrepreneurship and microfinance.
I hate to be the one to break it to them, but talking with other people about helping the poor does not help the poor. While you are talking, they are still hungry.
If you want to discover the best model for combining business and social problems, the very first thing you should do is start a business to solve social problems, or go work for one – right now. Then you will learn what is really involved in a social enterprise. I can tell you from experience, you will be throwing out almost all the ideas and opinions you have about the matter until you do it yourself.
If you want to find the best organization to work with, go work for any organization that is focused on changing any life besides your own – right now. During the year you have been carefully avoiding wasting your time, you have wasted a year.
If you are studying as much as you can today, you have forgotten that while you are studying the problem, a child has missed her opportunity to go to school, so the cycle of poverty is being extended an entire generation in her family. Why are you studying to work on the problem later? The problem is now – work on it right now, and you will learn more than any book could ever teach you.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t talk, reflect, or study. But I have noticed there are too many people who are mostly talking, reflecting and studying. Ask yourself now, am I spending more time talking about changing the world than I am actually working on it? If so, I suggest correcting that imbalance – now.
Stop looking for the perfect way to participate. Go do anything for those in extreme poverty, anywhere – not for you, for them. Not a conference – first provide a meal. Not a study – first send money for medicine. Not a meeting – first fund a water well.
Raise money for Grameen Foundation. Volunteer with Women For Women. Buy a scarf from WORN. Fund a Bank of Hope at Esperanza International. Donate services to CitySquare. Start a weekend business that funds microloans.
Stop talking about it, and do it.